YouTube: The Coming Kingdom
For the early Christian under Roman suppression, one of the most appealing aspects of the book of Revelation was the promise of a new world full of joy and free of suffering.
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband…” (Rev. 20:1-2).
Derived from the book of Ezekiel, this vision of a new Jerusalem represents the long-held hope of the dawning of the kingdom of God. In the coming three decades, however, the Jewish revolt against the Roman empire would produce only a brief glimmer of hope, followed by complete devastation of the Jewish population.
Among the sayings of Jesus, the kingdom of God is a central theme. If we pay close attention to what he meant by this phrase, we see in this oft-quoted passage that he was not talking about a brick-and-mortar phenomenon, but the dawning of a new state of consciousness.
“Being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, he answered them, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Lo, here it is!’ or ‘There!’ for behold, the kingdom of God is within you’” (Luke 17:20-21).
When it comes to understanding this notion of an inner kingdom, our Judeo/Christian heritage has produced a great stumbling block by indoctrinating us with the belief that we are separate from God, and that the future, saving intervention of God will indeed be accompanied with signs to be observed.
In contrast, Jesus spoke of the need for a new birth, a new way of thinking and being that is intuitively rather than intellectually experienced. During the crucifixion, this transition is symbolized by the rending of the curtain covering the temple’s Holy of Holies, the so-called dwelling place of God where only certain priests were permitted to enter.
“And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom …” (Matthew 27:51).
The universe is not striving to perfection. It is perfect now. Likewise, the kingdom of God is not a thing of the future. It is a present reality to all who have the intuitive eyes to see.